Circus Trip Has Nothing on Blackhawks' Latest

Eight-game, 17-day trip will kick off Hawks' second half

Every fall, when the Ringling Bros./Barnum and Bailey Circus comes to town, the Bulls and the Blackhawks embark on their "circus trips" -- two-week road trips when neither team (especially the Bulls) seems to be able to string together wins.

By any normal standard, two weeks is a long road trip. But it pales in comparison to the one the Blackhawks are starting tomorrow night. Their latest trip, which will also be their first games since two home losses and the subsequent All-Star break, will take them away from the United Center for eight games and a total of 17 days. It's the second longest road trip in the history of the Hawks, their longest being nine games. Yikes.

What's worse is the Hawks' schedule: After a couple of meh games against the Ducks and the Kings (who are near the bottom of the Western Conference), they face the Sharks, who are 22-1-2 at home this season, before facing the Oilers and the Flames, two teams in contention with Chicago for the second tier of the West. They finish with the Canucks, Thrashers, and the Blues, whom the Hawks lost to in their final game before the break.

Anyway you slice those eight games, that's pretty brutal. The positive spin? The Hawks get away from home for a bit, get to test their mettle on the road, get to bond as teammates, hit each other with towels ... whatever it is that rich young hockey players do. (And they don't have to play the Red Wings in the process.) The downside? Um, it's a 17-day road trip? That's downside enough, we think.

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